Harlot by the Side of the Road

Jonathan Kirsch, Author Ballantine Books $27 (378p) ISBN 978-0-345-40749-8
Arguing that several stories in the Bible have often go untold because of the graphic nature of their sexual content, writer and attorney Kirsch here sets out to retell the stories, ranging from the ""sacred incest of Lot's daughters"" to the rape of David's daughter, Tamar, in contemporary language, using dialogue and descriptive detail to make the stories more accessible to today's readers. The stories may be surprising to those whose only familiarity with the Bible is from childhood, since they deal with such adult issues like prostitution, incest and rape. For example, the chapter on ""Lot and His Daughters"" continues the story past the usual Sunday school ending. Since Lot and his two daughters are the only survivors after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, each daughter in turn seduces her father and conceives a child in order to continue the human race. After each story, Kirsch attempts to put the story into context with his own critical analysis and the interpretations of other biblical scholars. The author also includes a chapter on methods of reading the Bible and a helpful bibliography. Kirsch succeeds in bringing these ancient stories to vivid life, and in revealing the human passions and frailties often left out of the telling of familiar Bible tales. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
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